Courtesy of the Sundance Institute

Love is in the air, but it’s not the suffocating kind of Valentine’s Day love, though I am a sucker for those conversation hearts. Instead, it’s the debilitating, heart-wrenching, make-you-wonder-how-you-could-ever-live-without-it kind of love that most of us can only dream of finding. And yet, despite its rarity, Baz Poonpiriya (“Bad Genius”) manages to fill every corner of his latest film, “One for the Road,” with it.

Set across two countries and timelines, “One for the Road” follows Boss (Thanapob Leeratanakajorn, “In Family We Trust”) and Aood (Natara Nopparatayapon, “Voice”) across Thailand as they visit Aood’s exes and try to make amends as Aood falls further into the grips of cancer. At the same time, though, we also watch the story of Boss and Aood’s friendship — how it began rooted in something deeper than a mere roommate relationship and the way it unfolds right until the last minute of the film.

It’s through this friendship that Poonpiriya is able to successfully saturate “One for the Road” with a love like no other. He recognizes that the source of it can come from places beyond a significant other. It’s cheesy to say, but the love we have for our friends is unparalleled and often goes unnoticed. 

But when Boss returns to Thailand to help out someone he hasn’t spoken to in what seems like years, it’s clear that their relationship still holds a special place in both of their hearts, especially as they seamlessly fall back into that easy rapport you can only find among best friends.

The first hour of the film is frustrating. Aood, faced with his imminent death, decides that it’s time he becomes a good person and apologizes to his exes, under the guise of returning some small, emotion-filled trinket of theirs. Despite his “good” intentions, only one of his exes accepts his apology. And, quite honestly, she was being generous. 

As he visits each woman, we get glimpses into his insecurities in his relationships and with himself while also getting a better picture of his friendship with Boss. Aood’s hopes and dreams for these failed relationships are on display, as well as a stark comparison between Aood, somewhat of a monogamist, and Boss, the ladies’ man of New York City.

It’s a classic story of someone facing death and deciding to open wounds that he won’t have to deal with because he’ll be, well, dead. His exes have impressive strength in not giving into Aood’s self-indulgent need to right his wrongs. One slaps him and returns to her work, only crying once she thinks no one is watching. Though, of course, Aood and Boss happen to drive by, and Aood is forced to actually consider what his actions might be doing to other people. 

This selfishness, wrapped in a pretty packaging of “wanting to say sorry,” is further highlighted in the second hour. This half of the film, drenched in bittersweet nostalgia, shows how Boss’s story is much less cliched than Aood’s. We see the development of Boss into his womanizing character, a change marked by perfectly gelled hair and better-fitting pants. 

Throughout Aood’s story, little details about Boss are sprinkled in, almost imperceptibly. He’s a bartender in New York and yet lives in a lovely penthouse; he whips out money with no care in the world, and he offers to pay for Aood’s chemotherapy. He’s a charismatic force and yet that all crumbles upon returning to his childhood home. The evident difference in façade as he walks into his family’s building sets up what eventually becomes Aood’s final apology. 

Boss’s heartbreaking origin story makes you say “poor little rich boy” without the slightest hint of irony. His romantic relationships are characteristic of any rich, heartbroken bachelor — he hops from woman to woman, maintaining a sense of detachment to avoid the hurt he’s seen in the past. But Aood is the one constant in his life, the connection that keeps him afloat among all these fleeting relationships. 

That is, until the two have a falling out, only to reconnect when Aood, facing cancer, can no longer be that constant. The push and pull of this relationship, the difference between Aood and Boss’s friendship now and then, fosters a wistfulness that can only come from years of missed connections and Valentine’s Days spent alone. 

And so, while we reminisce about the days when we could always count on 25 valentines in the form of our elementary school classmates, take a minute to talk to your friends. Make a cheesy valentine, send someone an e-card or eat your weight in chocolate with your roommates. Just don’t wait until you’re on your deathbed to do it.

Daily Arts Writer Emma Chang can be reached at